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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—For weeks, New Brunswick’s Mayor has attempted to stay far away from an evolving scandal in the Water Utility, which repeatedly failed to notify residents of water quality problems for over three years.
As we reported earlier, at least six times since 2010, residents were supposed to be warned to boil their water but no notification was made. In addition, a slew of other violations were alleged by the state, and admitted to by the city.
After last night’s meeting of the Ford Avenue Redeveopment Agency in Milltown, where Cahill earns thousands in fees serving as the board attorney, the Mayor spoke with the author of this article briefly about the problems.
Previously, Cahill had only spoken to the press through intermediaries and his name did not appear on public notices that went out citywide announcing the cover-up on November 27.
Though he admitted our reporting on the “failure to report issues” was “absolutely correct,” Cahill used his first public comments on the topic to attack this newspaper, calling it “a political tool.”
“You should report that the water is safe and has been safe for a considerable period of time. But you haven’t reported that because it’s not what you’re interested in,” said the man who has been mayor since 1991.
“In addition to some things that are accurate, you are creating a sense of the community that you don’t need to commit.”
Asked about what actions were being taken to rectify the problems, Cahill was light on details, instead deferring to a two-page list of corrective actions published by the city last Wednesday.
“There’s a whole report that’s online and that says it, I think, very well… So rather than have me do some things off the top of my head, go to the website,” said Cahill.
Asked whether he would support or participate in a public forum on the issue, as he has done in past scandals, Cahill said it was “something I’ll think about.”
“I dont know that a public forum to get all the truths of it is necessary… I’m not sure what it really adds to the equation.”
Cahill has not yet said whether he plans to run for an unprecedented seventh term in 2014.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.